While many people around the world are considered food-insecure, about 40 percent of the harvest is thrown away and never reaches our mouth. Nearly 20 percent of landfill consists of food waste. Our shopping, cooking and eating habits could contribute to overall food waste. Government regulations also contribute to the high level of food waste. The food distribution system may not be nimble enough to properly distribute the whole crop to the market and eventually to consumers. On the other hand, consumer behaviors also play a role in causing food waste.
1. Shop smart
Before reducing food waste, we should be aware of it. We need to plan our weekly food purchase and processing. It means that we should buy only the food we need and make sure that it will be consumed entirely. Even if we put food in the fridge, it will eventually go stale and end up in the garbage. Making a shopping list may seem like an old-fashioned approach, but it will prevent us from wasting food.
2. Prioritize on quality
Consumers should choose quality over quantity. Excess consumption is often considered as the main reason for food waste. Waste is a serious social disease and it is better to purchase quality food at a limited amount than buying a higher quantity of lower quality food that will end up being thrown away because we don’t time to cook and eat it.
3. Don’t be afraid of buying ugly-looking produce
Some products in the market may have blemishes and other imperfections, but they are still fresh and edible. In fact, imperfect produce is often sold at lower prices. By buying it, we could both reduce food waste and save money. Just because a fresh cabbage has a few dark spots, it could still be consumed, instead of ending up in landfill or compost pile.
4. Perform regular evaluations
We should organize our pantry and refrigerator. Each time we purchase a load of groceries, we should evaluate all available edible food in our house. We should have a plan to cook older ingredients before they go bad. If we want to minimize food waste, we should implement the FIFO or First In, First Out method. Perishable food should be consumed in the order of purchase date. In order to do this, we should rotate food. Older ingredients should be put the front and used before they go bad.
Stir fry and soup are versatile meals. We could make them using leftover bits of veggies and meats. Even bones and chicken skin can be boiled to make basic broth for soups and stews. If fruits start to overripe and will go bad in a couple of days, we could use them to make pies or other baked products.
6. Reward yourself for not wasting food
By playing the no-food-waste game, we should be able to avoid being pressured to do this task. Promising ourselves a good reward could encourage us to be creative and to experiment. Being efficient with produce is a game that the entire family can play. Progress should be tracked each week and we should evaluate how much food we need to throw away despite our best efforts. This will also allow smaller children to learn about math and other sciences lessons. By reducing food waste, we should be able to analyze the impacts on our monthly bills.
7. Plant some produce
Growing some of our own food is a good way to reduce food waste. Even in a small garden, we should have plenty of opportunities to detours crops. When planting our own food, timing is everything. We should stagger our planting, so we will be able to avoid a glut. Instead of getting a big harvest at one time, we should schedule our planting, so we get a steady supply at a smaller quantity that we can cook and consume. It is preferable to choose multi-purpose vegetables, such as tomatoes, which can be used for sauces, sandwiches, and salads.
Without proper preservation, we will eventually need to waste food. Freezing is a common way to preserve food, but we could also use the drying and canning methods. Food preservation should be considered as part of household chores. We should plan food preservation schedules, especially when they coincide with the availability of so much produce.
9. Share the harvest
In a neighborhood, where households plant some of their produce, it is a good idea to swap crops. This will engage the entire community to avoid wasting food. A few households may have apple or mango trees that produce hundreds of pounds of fruits.
10. Make compost
Some parts of vegetables and fruits are thrown away and not consumed. Even if we have to throw away some stale food, we shouldn’t put them to the garbage can. Their nutritional values can be recycled by plants in our garden. Composting converts and reuses nutrients in food.